May 5, 2011

What's the gift for a Sixth Blogiversary?

Dude, I'm floored. What's that you say? Oh, well, you see, Sunday marks the sixth anniversary of this here little corner of the blogosphere. Six years. Though, admittedly, it hasn't been a full six years - I was on sabbatical hiatus just couldn't write to save my life for the better part of a year. But, nonetheless, that's like forever in Internet time. In an age when information comes and goes and changes and comes again in 140 characters or facebook updates, taking the time to construct multi-paragraph posts seems, at times, to be a herculean task. So to do so for nigh on six years I think is something of an achievement and, if you don't mind, I will engage is some brief self-congratulation: Yay, me.

(Hey, don't get carried away there.)

Ok, that's enough. I don't know who's still following this blog after all this time. I know there are a few of you still out there, waiting with bated breath (please...please brush your teeth people) for me to type in the Blogger box. I appreciate it, I really do. I was looking at my blogrolll the other day and I think more than half of the bloggers listed there have long since stopped blogging or blog about as frequently as I do as of late. Honestly, it's hard. I admire those out there that blog daily or almost daily - that's a shit-ton of writing right there. But, in the words of our President, let me be clear: I admire the writers who are writing, not shilling this product or that. I don't care if you're giving away the latest Maclaren or 15 metric tons of M&M's, you're not writing, you're a paid shill. This is honest writing and I applaud Ron for putting it out there. Hell, you want honest, incredible writing? Pick any of the writers at (shameless self-promotion coming) DadCentric and you'll find some of the best writers I've ever come across. Bar none. Anyway, it's hard and anyone who says differently doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. And I'm angry that I'm having such a hard time doing it. ::gets off sopabox::

Getting back to our regularly scheduled programming: six years! That means Li'l Dubs is not so little anymore. ::sniff, sniff:: He'll be six. And his younger brother will enter the Terrible Threes (don't let anyone fool you, two is not nearly as bad as three - not even in the same ballpark). And their sister is four. Four?!? Can I get a big WTF?!? Whoop, whoop! When Kara suggested I start blogging (because she was, at the time, reading mr. nice guy who is an amazing and hilarious writer, but no longer blogging there) I thought "Okay, what a great way to come to grips with the enormity of becoming a father - let's just put it all out there for everyone to see. There's nothing anxiety-inducing about that..." So I did. And here I...we...are.

I very rarely go back and read anything I've written. Oh, I go back and look at my Top 100 Albums from time to time (those would be somewhere in 2006 - start looking around August if you're interested) because those are fun to look at. But there's a series of posts I go back and read every year. And every time I read them I say to myself that I don't need to read them anymore, that what's in the past should stay there. I don't need to read them because all is right with that part of the world. But I read them anyway. Remember what I said about the enormity thing? Yeah, seems like I need that reminder (and a good cry) once a year. If you're so inclined you can read Part One and Part Deux. Those posts are why I blog. Those posts exist because I never could have accurately described that time verbally, in a conversation. The amount of non-sequiturs alone would have made people think I was crazy(-ier?).

Well, I think that's it for now. I wanted to talk about how this past weekend was like some Walt Disney/Mario Puzo mash-up with a fairytale wedding opening the weekend and Osama bin Laden (or as I like to call him Osama bin Dusted) sleeping with the fishes a la Luca Brasi closing it out. But, damn that's been done to death (ba-dum-dum). So, as the kids today like to say, L8R.

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March 25, 2011

#9 Dream

"Holy fuckin' shit, kid," as my brother-in-law might say. Holy fuckin' shit, kid, indeed.

It's been nearly a year since I found myself here, my old stomping grounds. My blog. mr. big dubya: Working Without a Net Since 2005. This home to hundreds of posts - some witty, some profound, some...well...some should have been thrown down the memory hole. Whoa, what the hell was I thinking (or drinking) when I decided that hitting Publish Post was a great idea on that gem? Yikes. Still, it is my little corner of the tubes (corner? tubes? Shut up, he's on a roll.), for better or worse.

What brings me back here after, oh, one week shy of a year from my last post? Karma? Kismet? Fate? Typo? Density? Yeah, all of that. Honestly, I miss it here. There's a lot of history. Hey, five years is definitely a lot of history to some people - Li'l Dubya for example. And Li'l Dubyette and Li'lest Dubya. Hell, they can't even comprehend five years. So, yeah, it's a lot of history.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah...rambling. So, pop quiz: what's the worst thing that can happen to a writer? That's right! Browser crash. No, seriously, it's writer's block. And damn if I haven't been afflicted for easily over a year. It's not that I don't have things to say. Look, I'm doing it now. I'm writing. Granted, it's the ravings of a lunatic or the product of a roomful of monkeys sitting at typewriters - you pick. But when it comes to developing posts with a cohesive theme or some nugget of poignancy? Nothin'. I just stare at the cursor as it mocks me; silently tapping its foot impatiently waiting for me to tap-tap-tap at the keys. Then I click the 'X' in the corner of the browser tab and make typepad or blogger go away. Buh-bye.

But, like any good writer, I found inspiration in the bottle. A few days after finding a Magic Hat bottle cap that read: Condoms Prevent Minivans (which is now sitting in my Honda Odyssey - take that!) - I was enjoying another Magic Hat #9 when I noticed the underside. It read: You Need to Write More. I gasped. I dropped the cap, unwilling to believe in this...this...otherworldly suggestion. It was if Calliope was speaking to me personally.

No. I didn't think any of that. I actually giggled a little, said "No shit," put the cap in my pocket and thought, "This will make a decent facebook status update with the condoms and minvans cap." But, I did feel a bit inspired by it nonetheless. Inspired enough to get off my horse (his name is Woeisme, btw) and at least try to write. Then, as luck would have it, Backpacking Dad included me on a list of The Top 25 Sexiest Dad Bloggers (at #9 no less - are you seeing the kismet? Feeling the fate? #9...Magic Hat #9 - c'mon work with me here people). And after tweeting: "wow - I don't know what to say. You like me. You really like me! #toosexyformyshirt The reply I received from Backpacking Dad sealed the deal that I would find my way back to blogging: @mrbigdubya It's really sexy that you last wrote, a year ago, "going to try to post here more than once a quarter..." Keep 'em wanting more!" Oh, snap!

So, here I am, for better or for worse, determined to get my writing on. Sarcasmed into it by a fellow dad blogger and a bottle cap. Yeah, no chance of this going wrong at all. Please bear with me, it may be like Bambi trying to walk on ice or, well, when Bambi met Godzilla. I guess we'll see.

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March 30, 2010

It's a Slow Process - Or So They Tell me

Hey, anyone here? Hello? I guess it's just me and you then. So, how have you been? Good, good glad to hear it. Me? Oh, I've been fine, yeah. Nothing much really. I thought I'd get back into this blogging thing by now, but I just haven't been feeling it at all lately. I feel like I've been sapped of all my creativity. And that sucks because I really do enjoy it. I've never looked at blogging as a chore in any way, but lately I feel like it's a chore just to come by and brush away the cobwebs from this little corner of the tubes. Honestly, I've kind of let this place go. See those kids up there? I'm pretty sure that picture is three years old. They don't even look like that anymore. And, hell, there's a third who's not there. Big fat F-A-I-L. Note to self: need to change banner. Hell, need to change layout, content, blog lists. Okay, maybe I should just blow it all up and start over. Something to think about.

I have things to talk about too. TV shows - anyone else watch Sons of Anarchy? Thoughts on that season finale? How about Leverage? Sort of A-Team and Players - anyone remember Players with Ice-T? The DVR is also filling up with Justified (brilliant show by the way), Psych and Caprica. Speaking of Caprica, am I alone in my reluctance to fully buy in yet? Anything else out there I should be watching or catching up on? I wanted to start a meme (I know, me, starting a meme) about Top 10 favorite cover songs of the 80s or from 80s bands or '00s covers of 80s bands or even a whole bunch of other categories, but you actually have to blog to get those going so....I'm also so out of touch right now - I have no idea what's worth listening to. An iPhone with Pandora and last.fm during a commute is not a great way to hear new music. Just sayin'. And let's not talk about movies, although I have seen Inglourious Basterds and Zombieland so I guess that's not too bad, right? Right? No I haven't seen James Cameron's vision for a live-action Smurfs movie. I do want to see Hot Tub Time Machine because, well, it's about the 80s, duh - there's a good review over at Culture Brats. Speaking of Culture Brats, it's a new blog started by my friend Chag about pop culture: The Children of the 80s Are Reclaiming Pop Culture. Yes, I did agree to write over there because pop culture is really the one thing I do enjoy writing about. I'll be doing a post with Chicky Chicky Baby: Sixteen Candles vs. Pretty In Pink - should be interesting. I'm also making arrangements to interview the guys at Stuck In The 80s - a great podcast about what else?

I'm currently writing a post for DadCentric about my upcoming 25th reunion. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Twenty-five years. That's a loooong time. So much has happened in that time. It's surreal on so many levels.

Anyway, I'm offering no promises that I'll be here daily, but I am going to try and get back here more than once a quarter. That's my noncommittal commitment and I'm sticking to it.

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December 3, 2009

Ch-, Ch-, Ch-, Changes and Return of The Mantel™

You know how you can tell you haven't blogged at a particular place in a long, long while? When you can't type the address. That's how it was just moments ago as I was trying to come here and post. I felt like some octogenarian lost at the mall who can't remember where he's lived the past 60-some-odd years. Granted, I've been here only four-and-a-half, but you get the idea. And I think that fact as helped me make a decision I've been contemplating for a while now.

When I started blogging back in 2005, it was with the idea that I would focus on becoming a father and all that entailed. Little did I know at the time that I would join - nay, be a founding member of - one of the premier dadblog on these tubes. Granted, although a lot of the writing I did here strayed far and wide from the father-focused topics, I still considered mr. big dubya essentially a "dadblog." But that really has changed over the past several months. Yes, I am a dad, but the blog itself has really become a place for me to share with you pieces of who I am in addition to being a father. And I think that's the direction it's going to take from now on. Sure, there may be stories that involve Li'l Dubya, Li'l Dubyette and Li'lest Dubya, but the focus here will no longer be on them. I know, I know, you really want to hear about Li'l Dubs singing Gonna Make You Sweat while he pees (is that dope enough? Indeed.), but I just can't do that. So I will confine most of my fathering stuff to DadCentric where it belongs - I've always been conflicted about what goes there and what stays here anyway, now it's easy.

One thing I will do, however, is a Mr. Big Dubya's Bloggers' Mantel™ 2009. This will be the 5th and final year of The Mantel™. Just to re-cap:

I will once again be the Internetoweboblogosphere's (aka The Tubes) holiday mantel and post the ubiquitous holiday cards for all to see, admire, laugh at and add thoughtful comments. If you'd like to participate, please send a picture or a scan of your card -- if you send a pic, just let me know what greeting you'd like to include and what nom de plume to use; if you send a scan, let me know if you want me to doctor it to hide your true identity. Depending on how creative I get, I may try something different this year, but knowing how incredibly lazy I can be, I'll probably just end up posting them like I did last year.

So, just send along what you'd like taped to The Mantel™ to mrbigdubya at gmail dot com. I'll start posting them as they arrive (props to those who have already sent one in you eager little beavers you). And, just because I still think this pic is hysterical, I thought I'd share it yet again. Li'l Dubs wants your pictures:


There you have it: a new direction for this blog and the return of and subsequent farewell to The Mantel™. So, send in those pics and let's go out with a bang not a whimper.

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October 2, 2009

October 2: Cure JM Day


Kevin of Always Home and Uncool and fellow DadCentric homey, has asked me to post this as part of his effort to raise awareness in the blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago. The day also happens to be his wife's birthday.

*

Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions -- none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner -- then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source -- obvious and otherwise -- that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift -- a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago -- Oct. 2, 2002 -- the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at www.curejm.org.

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to www.firstgiving.com/rhondaandkevinmckeever or www.curejm.com/team/donations.htm.

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August 5, 2009

My God, what have I done?

Yeah, it's been a while since the first installment. Thought this might be a good time to pick it back up again. When we last left our hero, he was leaving home. With that all wrapped up, we now find him at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Home of the Artillery, King of the Battle. Ooo-sha!

Oh good Lord, the waiting. Tom Petty has no idea how right he was. Every movement in the military is a lesson in extremes. Move as fast as you can to get to a location. Wait an interminable amount of time for something to happen then move post haste to your next point. Then do this for 10 or so days straight. All day. All the while knowing full well you have yet to even start anything.

This is Reception. Or more accurately, Reception Battalion. Here you are introduced to some elements of the military experience. Here you march, albeit out of step and still in civilian clothes. Here you learn to say “Drill Sergeant, yes, Drill Sergeant” but with none of the fear, respect or second nature reflex. In Reception, you get shots, in both arms, from medics with hydraulic nail guns who, on some level it seems, take pleasure in inflicting a small amount of pain in these new ‘cruits. You are Privates or Privates First Class. You are the bottom rung. You are a grabastic piece of amphibian shit. The only thing on your level (at least in the eyes of an NCO) is a Lieutenant, but you’re pulling away.

Some newbies, like me, are pulled out of ranks first thing some morning and escorted to a testing facility where, for the next six hours, we are subjected to made up languages and the dots and dashes of Morse Code ad nauseum. Apparently, we have an aptitude for languages the military wanted to exploit nurture. This only served to extend my stay in the Eighth Circle of Hell known as Reception for another four days, which also intensifies the false sense of security that begins to set in. “Shit, this isn’t so bad.”

Reception is where ‘cruits are herded into a barbershop and shorn like sheep. Each haircut takes approximately 45 seconds – maybe less – as the “barber” of Seville carves out row after row using a 0 blade. Down to the skin. Look! Penises on Parade. In Reception, you learn to spit out the last four numbers of your SSN as easily as saying your name. In Reception, you are issued uniforms, with your name on them, and it’s all made real. But you are, in no way, shape or form prepared for what’s to come. You have been successfully lulled.

***************************************************************************************

The morning of that day of days, the day you finally leave Reception, is really no different than any other. You’re still hurrying up and waiting. You strip the bed you’ve been using; do the duffle bag drag downstairs; and then wait to join whatever group you’ve been assigned to. You move to that group and wait some more. Waiting for what you have no idea. Until, that is, the cattle tucks arrive. Olive drab trucks pulling silver trailers. Each one identical. And each one equally menacing yet somehow benign. Drill Sergeants emerge from the trailers. They are pressed and spit-shined and command a level of respect nary uttering a word. “Grab your bags and get on the truck,” says the large African-American DS with an equally large and booming voice. You think that basso profundo voice might be soothing in a Barry White sorta way. You soon will be disabused of that notion. The other DS, a mustachioed fire hydrant, only glares at the recruits getting on his truck.

Neither DS says a word for most of the ride. There is a stop halfway through where each new soldier has his picture taken in non-descript Class A (dress greens) jackets and caps nicknamed after a derogatory slang term for female nether regions. Yeah, you figure it out; you’re smart like that. “Get off the truck…get on the truck.” All the while, the fire hydrant never says a word. And that makes you nervous. The lull has started to wear off.

You look at other privates standing in the truck, each one a camouflaged straphanger. No one makes eye contact. Eyes are fixed on the floor or at imaginary spots on the truck walls. But each new soldier on this truck is very well aware that things are going to change soon and in a very profound way.

The truck slows down. Railroad tracks. Did it just get dark outside? Was that thunder? This is so not good.

“WELCOME TO THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ TWILIGHT ZONE YOU PUNK MOTHERFUCKERS,” bellows the fire hydrant – why couldn’t it have been basso profundo? “YOU WILL NOT KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS. YOU WILL NOT KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS. YOUR MOTHER IS NOT HERE TO HELP YOU. YOU BELONG TO ME AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY. PICK UP YOUR FUCKIN’ BAGS AND GET READY TO GET OFF MY FUCKIN’ TRUCK.”

You quickly learn that this guy owns everything. The truck. The drill pad. The stairs. Even the air you breathe. You reach down and grab duffle bags, unsure if you’ve even grabbed your own. The truck stops and the rear doors fly open. You’re aware of a lot of yelling. So. Much. Yelling.

“WHAT’S YOUR NAME, PRIVATE? GODDAMMIT, I SAID WHAT’S YOUR NAME? GOD YOU ARE ONE STUPID MOTHERFUCKER. GET DOWN AND BEAT YOUR FACE.**”

You hustle your way off the truck, hoping to God and anyone else who will listen that you can get through this with minimal damage. Alas, it’s all in vain. When all is said and done, you have run the gauntlet of six Drill Sergeants and had the misfortune of running up square against basso profundo (who’s not so soothing anymore as his 6’5” frame looms over you) and the fire hydrant – the Senior Drill Sergeant. (This would be funny, an interesting study in contrasts, but you lost your funny two drill sergeants ago.) You have said your name too many times to count. You have done push-ups for not saying “Drill Sergeant, yes, Drill Sergeant” on more than one occasion. You have done them because you have an accent. You have done them because you are from Boston. You have done them because they met someone else from Boston and didn’t particularly like that person fuck you very much. You think your name is Motherfucker or maybe it's Sumbitch or the quite exquisite, Punkassmotherfucker. Kinder, gentler Army my ass. You are long past not being able to feel your arms. This is what running on pure adrenaline is like. And man is it hot – Oklahoma in June – can’t wait to see what July and August bring. Is that a migraine rearing its ugly head? Fan-fuckin-tastic.

“Grab your bags and stand over there. Drink some water too,” says the Senior Drill Sergeant, not yelling, just talking. “You Northern boys...yeah you...you need to drink water. Lots of fuckin' water. I don’t want any fuckin’ heat casualties. Hurry up!” Hurry comes out Her-ry. And you'll hear it a lot. In your sleep even.

The shock-and-awe portion of our program is over for now. What time is it? Oh my God, he was right. I have no concept of time anymore. It’s time for the punks to get settled into the bays. Each bay consists of four rows of ten bunks each, separated by wall lockers, two bays per floor. This particular bay is third platoon, A Battery, 2/30 FA. Third Herd as it would be affectionately known to the 40 men who resided here. And home sweet home for the next eight weeks. Forty men go in, 38 come out.

**Beat your face means get down on the ground and start doing push-ups. The only thing worse to hear is "half-right face...front-leaning-rest position...move...in cadence...exercise" which is the actual command for the push-up while in platoon formation.

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July 31, 2009

Glory Be!

Well, whaddaya know. I can still find this blog and log-in - woo-hoo! Last time I was here I mentioned I've been in a funk. And brother what a funk it really was, glory be! to paraphrase Paper Lace. Anyway, if you want to know why I've been out of sorts as of late, head on over to DadCentric to read my latest post over there. I think I'm beginning to get my mojo back - or at least I'm hoping that's the case. I do feel as if the creative fires have once again been stoked - the old boiler is back in business (steam drum, dry pipe, superheater, etc.). (random aside: that last bit is something I learned nearly 25 years ago - it's the beginning of the steam cycle and that link will bring you to the ship on which I once sailed a long, long time ago - on its maiden voyage in 1986 - the Cruise to Nowhere as we dubbed it. Strange days, strange days indeed.)

Ok, back to business. Again, in that last post I had a contest for two copies of Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the Wii. I want to thank you for entering, it's an honor just to be nominated. Um...no...sorry, that's a different speech. Hold on flipping index cards ok, there we go. I hope you know that you're all winners to me. Yeah, that's it. Unfortunately, I only have two copies to give away. After careful consideration and the use of the always mysterious random number generator, I have come up with our winners. Please extend heartfelt congratulations to Kemp and sashalyn for the dubious honor of on winning this grueling contest. If the two of you wouldn't mind sending your mailing address to me at mrbigdubya at gmail dot com I will get those out to you post haste, right away and most riki tik.

I have plans to be back here more often, I miss the cozy confines of this blog. Also, I'm out to lobby for a spot on a panel at next year's BlogHer in NYC. Not sure what I have to offer yet, but I am a charter member of DadCentric - that's gotta count for something, right? Yeah, yeah, that and $2.51 will get me a Great One, just cream at Dunkin'. Also, if you aren't reading the goings on over at The Whinery, you should be. Mrs. Big Dubya has added to the staff over there and people are posting some good stuff about wine and beer. Come check out what such luminaries as Pet Cobra, TwoBusy, Clares Dad, Mrs. Chicky, Goon Squad Sarah, Cape Buffalo and yours truly, as well as some newcomers Swheeze, Mrs. Gnu and Wine-O are offering up. And follow The Whinery on twitter at twitter.com/thewhinery or keep up-to-date on Facebook as well - you'll thank me. I'm there too, but I imagine we already reciprocate on the whole following thing, but if not, you can find me at twitter.com/mrbigdubya - surprise, surprise.

Ta, ta for now. If you're looking for me this weekend, I'll be the one hording all the Torpedo I can find - I think, perhaps, I may have told too many people about this wonderful beer.

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